By Jason R. Hull, MD
Hip pain can impact individuals to varying degrees. What may start off as slight discomfort could progress into a severe, and potentially debilitating, condition affecting all aspects of a person’s life, including sleep.
Let’s take a brief look, then, at some of the symptoms indicating the potential need for a hip replacement, as well as the common treatments and recommendations associated with this condition.
Symptoms Indicating the Need for a Hip Replacement
One of the most common pain symptoms indicating the need for a hip replacement is pain coming from the front of the hip and radiating down into the groin. On some occasions, this pain can continue down into the buttocks. Rarely, however, does discomfort continue down the leg into the knee. A person experiencing more severe symptoms will often find hip pain disturbing sleep patterns, causing them to wake up at night.
While hip pain can be crippling to some, many people first experience it in a much less obtrusive manner. For example, some may only experience discomfort after performing a strenuous or rigorous activity. Over time, this pain will worsen and become present during every day activities (i.e. lifting a leg to get dressed).
Recommendations and Common Treatments for Hip Pain
A patient’s course of action with regards to hip pain will largely depend on his or her pain tolerance, as well as a number of other personal considerations.
Initial treatment and diagnosis almost always include a trip to the patient’s primary care physician, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) medications like Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. If these medications are ineffective, the patient may also be prescribed a stronger anti-inflammatory medication. Day-to-day activity modifications can often help alleviate pain in the joint and should be discussed with your doctor. This may only provide temporary relief or, hopefully, the pain will lessen to a more manageable level.
Aching hip pain at night is often the trigger that drives patients to seriously consider hip replacement. If a person can no longer sleep through pain and function properly the next day, it may be time to consider surgery.
The most appropriate candidates for hip replacement, then, are those who have already been adhering to a conservative treatment plan: oral anti-inflammatory drugs, activity modification, non-narcotic pain relievers, physical therapy, cortisone steroid injections, etc.
It’s important to note that hip replacement is an operation to consider when your pain says so, not when an X-ray says so. In other words, the patient should keep his native hip joint as long as possible by utilizing the conservative treatments mentioned above.
If you have specific questions related to hip pain or the need for a possible hip replacement, we encourage you to schedule an appointment.